Maybe PO'B meant to hint at the flaws in the personalities of both Clonfert and Corbett? A hint of further clashes? (I'm not sure as
I haven't re-read TMC in years).
I googled because googling is what I *do*. PO'B lifted the episode straight from "Life of a Seaman". Cochrane was being pleasant to his new admiral, Vandeput, a man who could be intimidating on first aquaintance.:
"On joining this ship a few days afterwards my reception was anything but encouraging.
Being seated near the admiral at dinner, he inquired what dish was before me. Mentioning its nature, I asked if he would permit me to help him. The uncourteous reply was — that whenever he wished for anything he was in the habit of asking for it. Not knowing what to make of a rebuff of this nature, it was met by an inquiry if he would allow me the honour of taking wine with him. "I never take wine with any man, my lord," was the unexpected reply, from which it struck me that my lot was cast among Goths, if no worse".
On further acquaintance the admiral proved to be one of the kindest of commanders. "There was not a happier ship afloat, nor one in which the officers lived in more perfect harmony".